• Boat ride date and apricot loaf

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    I got the idea for this loaf from Diana Henry, but I have “healthified” it considerably. There is no sugar added as the sweetness comes from the dried fruit, and the fat content has been improved by the addition of homemade nut butter. “Glycemically” speaking, this is still high, so go easy, but it is also chocked full of nuts and grains, so you don’t need very much. This loaf is extremely easy to make and quite impressive looking. I had to make 3 prototypes before getting it right, and my poor reading group ladies got one of the first. I was trying to make it vegan and gluten free. Some things lend themselves to this sort of improvement, but for other recipes it is best to just accept what they are and include them because they are simply delicious and part of the rich patchwork of our food. Its hardly naughty and for you Sun Temple “sinners,” I won’t add it to the Pagan Delights category.

    Serves about 10

    115g butter

    60g nut butter

    150g pitted dates

    75g ready to eat dried apricots

    aprox 75ml water (use judgement to stop dates and apricots drying out)

    juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange

    1 egg

    100ml agave syrup (optional)

    125g granary flour (or wholewheat)

    100g plain flour

    1 tsp baking powder

    1/2 tsp mixed spice

    really generous grating nutmeg

    50g walnuts coarsely chopped

    2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

    2 tbsp sunflower seeds

    1 tbsp sesame seeds

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    oranges in St. Lucia are green on the outside

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    Blitz the dates and apricots in the food processor until they are coarsely chopped (or do by hand). Add the orange juice and zest with the water, to the dates and apricots in a small covered saucepan and cook over a low heat for about 10 mins or until they are soft. Allow to cool some what.

    Mix all dry ingredients, nuts and seeds together.

    When the dates and apricots have cooled sufficiently, add the butter and the egg. Bring together the dry ingredients and the sweet pulp until well mixed but not overworked.

    I cooked mine for 45 mins in 180ºC oven in a silicone loaf pan. If yours is the metal sort then please grease well with butter. Sprinkle the top with a few pumpkin and sesame seeds before baking.

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    perfect loaf for a picnic or boat ride

    When Sean and Nancy are in St. Lucia we often go out for the day on one of their boats. They run a day charter business called Sea Spray Cruises (www.seaspraycruises.com) which also includes a fab pirate ship complete with “pirates” and canon on board and fly boarding (google this). On these happy days, we all contribute to what we will eat through the day, and I can honestly say, it has always been inventive and delicious. Sort of a recipe exchange at sea. Nancy makes the best pelau (typical Trinidadian dish of rice and chicken flavoured with burnt sugar, olives and raisins) of anyone (excluding my mum’s) West Indian or not. She has promised to do a guest posting, so watch this space.

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